Border Rumpus: Britain’s beef with Brussels Brexit bullying

EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May performs a few dance moves as she arrives to address the delegates on the third day of the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham, Britain, 03 October 2018.

Border Rumpus: Britain’s beef with Brussels Brexit bullying


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A mounting backlash to the EU’s blatant power grab over British sovereignty in Ireland and voter betrayal in Downing Street is now palpable.

Post-summit reaction in key quarters to Brexit Britain being held hostage to backroom blackmail on Northern Ireland is bordering on apoplectic.

Prime Minister Theresa May has had to endure the sort of language – “noose” and “assassination” — that would land you in court in Napoleonic Brussels… but next week’s Budget seems a more probable squeeze point.

Especially with Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun offering a pointed sympathetic shield, at least until everyone sees which way she goes now there is hardly anywhere left for her to turn.

The increasingly bitter Brussels bid to turn an already generous post-withdrawal transition into a permanent leash on the British bulldog is in truth pitiful.

And yet the influence of today’s “impasse” (or rather a grubby sell-out?), on Westminster arithmetic and knock-on UK political dynamics may yet prove potent.

We all get that the border after Brexit between the UK and the EU, between Northern Ireland and the Republic, is the boundary between markets, monies and migrants.

But as the tensions rise, the EU’s strategy on this issue also risks going down as a botched bid to seize on the touchiest of historical terrains — with potentially huge spillover implications in Scotland.

Whether the transitional “backstop” or future trade and security treaty focus is on goods or rights, the rub of it all is competing tax and investment jurisdictions.

The EU has already reined in the bailout-browbeaten Republic of Ireland on its threateningly low corporation tax, the lure for galloping tech giants Google or Apple.

So it just won’t allow Northern Ireland the potential to steal that post-Brexit competitive edge across an unmanned bend in a narrow country road.

Brussels can’t abide the province positioning itself, in Britain’s broader interests, amid an increasingly aggressive international trade war, as a pivotal global trading haven.

Not when the EU already has the global beacon of the City of London’s financial services real estate or its legitimate offshore tentacles to contend with.

But the big political powers in England are bolting fast towards a major domestic re-alignment, and the result going into the final Brexit bend may yet backfire on Brussels.

Is it not just possible Britain’s heartland could yet, beyond the bog of the border battle, finally find itself freed not only from Big Brother EU reflexes, but re-drawing domestic relations with Northern Ireland and ultimately Scotland?

Belligerent Brussels would do well to realize that the old UK it has for too long taken for granted has already bent over backwards as far as it possibly can.

The EU might yet find the present British beef with Brussels Brexit bullying giving rise to a leaner English rump charging ever more assuredly and coherently into new political opportunity.

With each passing day in the Deal-No-Deal stakes, we see an ever-greater pull into this patent new centre of political gravity across the whole British Isles.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, Messrs Barnier, Verhofstadt et al: just look to Italy — proudly atop your own euro-and-debt backlash table — to read the runes as the full impact of your Brexit balls-up, what you thought was your Brexit bullseye, finally hits home.

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